French Formula One driver Romain Grosjean, of Lotus, during the pre-season testings at the Montmelo racetrack in Barcelona, northeastern Spain, 28 February 2015.
French Formula One driver Romain Grosjean, of Lotus, during the pre-season testings at the Montmelo racetrack in Barcelona, northeastern Spain, 28 February 2015. EPA - ALEJANDRO GARCIA

F1 chief steps up to help teams for the season ahead

FORMULA One boss Bernie Ecclestone will reportedly bring forward payments of almost $A13 million to the Force India, Lotus and Sauber teams to ensure they are able to compete at next weekend's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The teams have faced an uncertain financial future for months, with Force India missing the first two pre-season testing sessions and only taking part in three days of the final session that wrapped up in Barcelona at the weekend. The 2015 championship is already down to just nine teams after Caterham and Marussia folded at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas (pictured) signed off the pre-season in style, topping the time charts on the final day of testing in his Williams.

The Finn's best lap time was more than half a second better than his nearest rival, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

Aussie Daniel Ricciardo was fifth in his Red Bull.



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